Why can’t X be more like Y?

It’s been a while since I last wrote a blog post for my own website. What can I say? I’ve been extremely busy with my editorial duties at Karwansaray Publishers and have only recently started to feel like I’m getting a handle on things. I’m planning on rebuilding this website, as well as building a few new ones, in the not-too-distant future, so great things  I hope  are ahead.

But the reason for writing a new blog post is this absolutely asinine article over at PC games website Rock, Paper, Shotgun. It’s written by Alec Meer and has the kind of headline that makes you scratch your head. Without even a hint of irony, Meer declares: ‘I wish Mass Effect was like The Expanse.’ I’m utterly baffled. I simply don’t understand why you would complain, in this instance, about X not being (more) like Y for reasons that I will briefly explain below.

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Classic Bond

Recently, I managed to convince my girlfriend to watch all of the classic Bond movies, one after the other. We started with Dr No (1962) and then watched From Russia With Love (1963), Goldfinger (1964), Thunderball (1965), You Only Live Twice (1967), On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969), and finally Diamonds Are Forever (1971). They’re all notable in their own way, though in my opinion, the first four are probably the best and Diamonds is clearly the weakest entry in this series of seven films.

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Bone Tomahawk (2015)

Westerns were immensely popular in the 1960s, but the genre petered out in the course of the 1970s. Traditional westerns have been very rare in the past two decades, though there have been a few good ones: for example, Appaloosa (2008), directed by and starring Ed Harris, is worth checking out, as are the two recent Quentin Tarantino pastiches. Cowboys and Aliens (2011) added a science-fiction twist to the genre. Bone Tomahawk, released in 2015, mixes a conventional western with horror. It’s a far superior film to Cowboys and Aliens: it looks great, the cast are fantastic, and the script is taut, featuring some excellent dialogue and characterization.

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The Great Silence (1968)

Decades ago, Italy produced a great many genre movies initially at least inspired by Hollywood productions. In the late 1950s, movies set in ancient times flourished, and films such as the 1958 Hercules helped create the sword-and-sandal or peplum genre. A little later, in the 1960s, Italian films such as Sergio Leone’s A Fistful of Dollars (1964) helped usher in a new golden age for what were initially and disparagingly dubbed ‘spaghetti westerns’. The success of the Leone movies naturally led to the production of a slew of these types of films. Many are rubbish, but some are excellent. Among the latter, Sergio Corbucci’s unorthodox The Great Silence (1968) stands tall.

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The Man from UNCLE (2015)

Hollywood, apparently unable to come up with much in the way of original ideas, has come to focus on producing new films based largely on existing properties. In the past twenty years or so, we’ve had movies based on popular book series such as Harry Potter and The Hunger Games, as well as a seemingly endless stream of films based on comic books. There have also been loads of largely unnecessary remakes of older movies, such as the relatively recent Robocop (2014), and reboots of older franchises, such as Star Trek (2009). And then there are movies based on old television series. One of these is The Man from Uncle, directed by Guy Ritchie.

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